Coronavirus: Features, transmission, symptoms and mortality rate

By Zhang Zhihao | | Updated: 2020-02-29 21:47
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Some key insights into the novel coronavirus offered in the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)


The virus has features typical of the coronavirus family and belongs to the Betacoronavirus 2b lineage. Full genome sequence analysis of the novel coronavirus revealed that its closest relative is the SARS-like coronavirus strain BatCov RaTG13 from bats, with an identical rate of 96 percent.

COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus, meaning it originated from animals. The exact animal origin of the virus is still unknown, but evidence suggests bats are natural carrier of this virus. The intermediate hosts between bats and humans have not yet been identified.

Early cases identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, are believed to have acquired the infection from an animal source as many reported visiting or working in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. However, the virus carrying animal from the market that lead to the outbreak is unknown.

Viral samples collected from patients with symptoms between late December last year and mid-February showed 99.9 percent homology, meaning the virus had not experience significant mutation.

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